Updated on 09/20/2013 11:30AM

Churchill Downs: Sky Girl may inherit favorite's role in Dogwood

Tom Keyser
Irish Lute may get an ideal setup behind a fast pace in the Dogwood for 3-year-old fillies.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Three of the nine 3-year-old fillies entered in the $100,000 Dogwood Stakes on Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs also were cross-entered in the $400,000 Charles Town Oaks later that evening, and two of them are forsaking their Kentucky homes for West Virginia.

One of them is a big one: So Many Ways, the Tom Amoss-trained filly listed as the program favorite for the Grade 3 Dogwood, is opting instead for Charles Town. Another filly, Fusaichiswonderful, also will go to Charles Town, trainer Tevis McCauley said Friday, while the third filly, Guadalupe High, is confirmed for the Dogwood by trainer Ronny Werner.

Not surprisingly, the defection of the would-be favorite is welcomed by the rest. Sky Girl, a recent private purchase by the Alpha Delta Stables, could inherit the favorite’s role in her first start for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. A daughter of Sky Mesa, Sky Girl showed considerable potential in her first four career starts, including back-to-back, open-length victories at the Churchill spring meet.

“She’s had four works since we got her, and she’s done everything we’ve asked of her, just push-button,” said Kenny McCarthy, the longtime Mott assistant. “She seems to be an extremely nice filly.”

Sky Girl will break from post 1 under Corey Lanerie, who remains aboard after riding her in all four prior starts.

Sky Girl and Irish Lute, who exits the Grade 1 Test Stakes at Saratoga for Dallas Stewart, might benefit most from the race shape. An honest-to-fast pace appears likely, given the presence of such speed horses as Thetaloveandmine, Guadalupe High, and possibly Finding More and Elusive Fate.

Irish Lute, a decent third in the Grade 1 Prioress at Saratoga two starts back, will have Shaun Bridgmohan aboard.

Into Friday, and halfway through the 12-day September meet, Lanerie and Bridgmohan were tied for leading jockey with eight wins each.

First post Saturday is 12:45 p.m. Eastern, with the Dogwood, the ninth of 10 races, going at 4:59. The undercard includes one allowance, a first-level sprint for fillies and mares that drew an oversubscribed field and directly precedes the feature as race 8.

Formerly contested as a one-turn mile in the spring, the Dogwood was last run in 2011 with Salty Strike as the winner. The race was revived after a one-year hiatus and assimilated into an eight-race stakes schedule for the new 12-day September meet. This will be the 38th running.

This will be the last Saturday afternoon card of the meet, as the following Saturday, Sept. 28, will be a Downs After Dark program. This card on Saturday will overlap through the early afternoon with the University of Louisville football game (noon kickoff) at nearby Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, with a number of red-clad fans making a short trip over for the later races.